Just a few weeks ago our first grandchild was born.  She is the most beautiful baby ever, of course, and, as much as I’d LOVE to tell you all about every little move she’s made since she’s been born, I won’t.  Instead, I want to discuss the hospital experience.

Here’s what I don’t understand.  Why is it, with all the advances in medical care since I gave birth over 30 years ago, have there been no advances in hospital gowns?  I’m not even convinced that the gown my daughter-in-law wore isn’t the exact same gown I wore way back when.  Have they just been washing and redistributing them?  Are they made out of some miracle fabric that never wears out?  Granted they are practical with their shoulder snaps and easy-to-access backs, but there is nothing pretty about them.  Their gray and white background, with little spurts of blue throughout the pattern, sort of inspire, well . . .  illness, that’s what they inspire.  I think women start to actually feel sick once they don these lovely, or not-so-lovely, gowns.

What you end up with, then, is a woman, who for the past couple of months can barely see her feet and is now in some degree of discomfort.  She shows up at the hospital; make-up on (because she knows there will be pictures later and is hopeful the make-up will last that long), hair done despite the oncoming contractions, and wearing her favorite maternity top, only to get to the hospital and be told, “Here, put this on.  We want to be sure you don’t feel at all pretty by the time you give birth.”  O.K., they don’t really say that last part, but still, it’s implied.

Is it too much to ask for some improvement here?  Could we not get some new colors and designs?  Are gray and blue the only colors that wash well?  I understand that these gowns get washed time and again and sometimes get “icky” but still, they don’t exactly add beauty to the “new mom and baby” pictures.  Remember that make-up the laboring mom put on, and the hair she so carefully styled?  It’s all gone by the time baby arrives.  Couldn’t we help her out a bit with maybe a pretty pink gown, or orange, or red?

They can send men to the moon, replace heart valves, knees, hips and nearly every other body part.  They can determine the sex of your child months before it ever arrives.  They can put a monitor on a laboring mom that starts recording a contraction even before she feels it herself, and gives the baby’s heart rate at any given moment.  With all of that, couldn’t just one little committee be assigned to coming up with an attractive, yet functional, hospital gown?  That, and maybe a way to make hospital food taste good, is all I’m asking.